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Hi-tech CCTV analysis methods that will catch rioters

Digital forensics and CCTV analysis techniques will continue to help bring justice to the looters who wreaked havoc on the streets of Greater Manchester, according to expert provider CYFOR.

The following article was published in the Manchester Evening News:

The Bury-based company has previously employed methods including CCTV analysis, CCTV enhancement and phone and computer analysis to help police forces secure convictions nationwide. The company cannot say whether it is involved in any current investigations, but it has previously drawn 90 per cent of its work from police forces and has been used in many high profile cases, including the failed Glasgow Airport car bomb attack. Although many rioting youths used scarves and hoods to prevent identification by CCTV analysis in the recent riots, CYFOR has expertise which also helps police with ‘profiling’ – a technique used to identify individuals from their size, shape and clothing.

Keith Cottenden, who joined CYFOR as forensic services director in 2004 following 22 years specialising in counter intelligence with the Royal Air Force, commented:

“There are CCTV cameras in every corner of Manchester and there is going to be a lot of CCTV analysis. The police will initially be on the streets and they are likely to use organisations like us to analyse that footage.

“We are able to turn fuzzy blobs into potential suspects, stabilise wobbly images and enhance registration plates on cars. We have done all these things for the police before. CCTV analysis techniques can take time, especially profiling, but with a combination of these images and those from bystanders it should lead to a high prosecution rate.”

As well as CCTV images, CYFOR has previously pulled contact details, call and text data, and images from the mobiles of arrested individuals. It has also stripped information from their home computers to help secure convictions.

“Following the riots in London, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham, I could have put money this was going to happen in Manchester,” said Keith.

“This had to be organised, and they would have done this using Messenger or Facebook or other networks on their computers.

“They may have got rid of their mobiles, but could have downloaded images to put on the new iPhone4 they took.

“If they used eBay to sell things, that can be pulled from computers.”

The company, which has 30 staff over three offices in Bury, London and Aylesbury, has become less reliant on the police for work since being founded in 2002, as it has been increasingly employed by corporations to perform cyber security tests and conduct internal investigations. Budget cuts have led to less work coming from police forces but as the company is also used by defence solicitors, it is expecting to be contacted following the outbreak of rioting and looting.

“We have had very little coming from the police in recent times because of budget cuts but we could help them significantly at this time and are equipped to do so,” added Keith.

“Solicitors defending some people who may have been caught up in incidents could well look to use us as well.

“An individual may have even ended up with a pair of trainers, but there may have been much worse people out there and solicitors will use us to show that.”

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